Many of us spend hours and hours on our tablets, phones and gaming consoles, battling friends and creating artificial worlds.

How many hours do you spend gaming online? Or better yet, how much money have you spent gaming online? Have you spent money on (or within) a game that started out free? It happens all the time.

Try these tips to keep gaming in your fun zone, not your danger zone.

Paying Customer

Why did you end up as a paying customer?

That's easy! Many free games come with certain caveats. Like ads or in-app purchases. And that's how it happens...

You may not want to see or wait for ads, and decide to buy the game to remove them. Or, even the idea of the best free game is to get you hooked on something until you eventually want to unlock new levels or a better vehicle or character, and then you ultimately pay for those features.

That's how (free) game developers make money, and there's nothing wrong with that! As long as you're in control of your gaming habit!

Don't Wreck Your Finances

Gaming can be a good way to escape. But gaming can wreck your finances faster than you can complete the next level. Try these tips to keep gaming in your fun zone, not your danger zone.

  1. First and foremost: set a strict monthly gaming budget.

    You can't spend money on everything. If you're going to spend money on gaming, would it make sense to give up spending on something more important to feed your gaming habit? Figure out your budget—what bills you need to pay, etc.—and set a specific amount of money aside for you gaming needs each month. And then stick to it!

  2. There are several ways to pay for your games. And we recommend not using a credit card.

    You don't want to add your credit card to your account! Why...? Because there's no limit to how much you can—or will—spend!

    Some people deliberately add their credit card to their (gaming) account, so credits can be uploaded instantly and you won't lose your high score or position in a level... OUCH, that adds up!!!

    Credit card companies love emotional gamers because you often spend more without thinking! Before you know it, you wreck your budget and are on track for uncontrollable debt or a credit card crash!

  3. Pre-pay your gaming habit instead!

    If you honestly believe that you can't control your gaming impulses, or just want to play it safe, loading your monthly gaming budget to a single pre-paid or to a debit card specifically designated to that gaming purpose can make sense. This way, you will never spend more than you budgeted for!

    And do resist that oh-so-sweet urge to upload more credits if you spend your limit. Rather than trash your budget, why not do something really radical, like take a walk, or meet with friends?

    Are there differences in pre-paid cards? Well, is there any difference between having $10 or $100 in your pocket? Some pre-paid cards are pretty fair to you. Some are downright rip-offs. If you're going to get a prepaid, make sure it is a good one.

Stay in Control

Before you hit the next level, let's quickly talk about how to purchase your gaming device or console!

Gaming is fun indeed, but like with everything else in life, you have to stay in control!

Have you ever met a person who has a money problem because of gaming? Will you be like that? You are the one who will determine the answer to that question!

Let me finish by giving you a last helpful link: Learn the difference between debit card, credit card, or prepaid cards.

Good luck out there,